A new report from In the Public Interest reveals that private prison companies, including two of the largest, the Corrections Corp. of America and Geo Group Inc., are forging deals with state and local governments that provide huge profits based on guaranteed high occupancy rates.
The report, titled “Criminal: How Lockup Quotas and ‘Low-Crime Taxes’ Guarantee Profits for Private Prison Corporations,” “documents the contracts exchanged between private prison companies and state and local governments that either guarantee prison occupancy rates (essentially creating inmate lockup quotas) or force taxpayers to pay for empty beds if the prison population decreases due to lower crime rates or other factors (essentially creating low-crime taxes),”….
With few exceptions and despite increasing investments in enforcement-based supply reduction efforts aimed at disrupting global drug supply, illegal drug prices have generally decreased while drug purity has generally increased since 1990. These findings suggest that expanding efforts at controlling the global illegal drug market through law enforcement are failing.
Unfortunately, the reforms Holder announced so far do not have a retroactive component so hundreds of thousands of non-violent offenders like Cameron Douglas with drug addiction issues are still being warehoused and forgotten. “Federal prisons are full of people who don’t need to be there,” says Jeremy Haile, federal advocacy counsel for the Sentencing Project, “instead they need drug treatment and it’s not clear how much treatment is available or if any of that treatment is adequate”. Recidivism rates among drug offenders would suggest that whatever treatment is on offer is not remotely adequate and there is no evidence that the prison system plans to reform its treatment policies.
In an open letter published by the Huffington Post in June of this year, Cameron Douglas attempted to raise awareness of his own predicament and that of other non-violent offenders who have been left to rot in prison. He wrote:Unfortunately, whereas the effective remedy for relapse should be treatment, the penal system’s ‘answer’ is to lock the door and throw away the key.
As Americans, we have this naïve assumption that people all over the world are struggling and way behind us. They’re not. Sweden and South Korea have more advanced high speed internet networks. Japan has the most advanced trains and transportation systems. Norwegians make more money. The biggest and most advanced plane in the world is flown out of Singapore. The tallest buildings in the world are now in Dubai and Shanghai. Meanwhile, the US has the highest incarceration rate in the world.
10 Things Most Americans Don’t Know About America http://bananenplanet.wordpress.com/2012/07/17/10-things-most-americans-dont-know-about-america/ (via curlycherie)
There are two areas where the USA is way out in front of the rest of the world: war and prison. The technology of killing is the main investment of U.S. national energy, and of course the semi-public semi-private incarceration economy is flourishing while schools and roads crumble. In many other quality-of-life terms — housing, healthcare, public transportation, public access to technology, mental health support, support for people with disabilities, childcare, primary education, maternity support, social safety net — I think a lot of US Americans personally know that things are not exactly rosy but see no options for fixing it.